Feedback wanted for my Botswana safari

Old Dec 1st, 2008, 05:50 PM
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Feedback wanted for my Botswana safari

I am planning on leaving for Botswana may 24 with my son (college graduation present and i go too!)
I have primarily been dealing with African Adventure Co. but also &Beyond
This is the itinerary we have. with each. I would appreciate your thoughts as to the camps, the amount of time we have set for each camp, how you might do it and why.

African Ad. Co.
1 night J'burg
3 nights Chitabe Lediba (WS, OD/Moremi/land
2 nights Kwetsani camp (WS) a water/land camp in OD
2 nights Camp Kahlahari (Makgadikgadi pans)
3 nights Selinda Camp (Linyati)
2 nights either Zambezi Sun or David Livingstone Lodge-Livingstone( Victoria falls)


&Beyond
1 night J'burg
3 nights Nxabega safari camp
2 nights Savute or Chobe under Canvas
2 nights Royal Livingstone
1 night J.burg due to connections
3 nights Ngala in South Africa

or i can change that to add another night in either Chobe or Savute
and drop Ngala and add the kahlahari protion that i was doing with AAC.

i am also thinking of possibly another night in J'burg to tour Soweto and see the Apartheid musuem at the end of any of the above options.

now mark at AAC, when i discussed the &Beyond deal (6 nights pay for 4) v wilderness safari 8 nights pay for 7 thought that the wilderness camps were in significantly better locations for game viewing, but that if i wanted the &Beyond camps he could also book me there.

so, my biggest question is he right that Chobe and Savute are either too dry or too crowded, and that more game is to be found at Kwetsani and Chitabe then Nxabega??

again, many thanks for all your input. it is much appreciated.


amycyma is offline  
Old Dec 1st, 2008, 07:15 PM
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"were in significantly better locations for game viewing, but that if i wanted the &Beyond camps he could also book me there" amycyma

I am only providing you feedback as you seem to be interested in game viewing. For best results in terms of game viewing, camp hopping isn't going to produce results. So, my suggestion is to eliminate two night stays. As to where to go etc etc., the only place I have been to from your extensive list is the Selinda and hopefully you come up with something or the other.
HariS is offline  
Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 04:24 AM
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Agree with Hari about trying for more than 2 nights at each.
Are you flying between camps?
The order of the AAC itinerary doesn't make sense to me.

I loved Chitabe Lediba - 3 nights was good. I could have done a 4th.

I did a desert over night starting at Camp Kalahari via Planet Baobab - 2n. should be good there depending on transportation.
If flying it should be ok.

The desert is a very cool experience. Try to see the Meerkats.

3n. at Selinda should be good but it may be wet then which may effect the game dispersion. The experts here should be able to tell you better.

Check out some of the trip reports, if you haven't already for more in depth info. on each location.

I talk about each of the above in my report and another thread with posted photos.
Botswana/Zimbabwe trip report and Bots./Zimb. pictures - or something like that.

Good luck!

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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 07:26 AM
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Maybe do Savuti or Duma Tau rather than Selinda, my choice would be Savuti, that gets you more WS nights, which may be a better deal.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 03:37 PM
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Selinda is also WS, and formerly had the walking trails option ( which i am interested in- an i may be able to get it) so that is why i went for that one.

and i agree with all of you that 2 nights seems too short, but i don't have them time to add more nights, so i would then need to take out a camp, I really want to go to the Kahlahari, but think that 2 nights there is enough. and i also want to be in a water camp.

the one i would be most likely to eliminate would be Chitabe, but everyone says its great, so....

i also will go and read all the various trip reports, i have a list of them. thanks for reminding me of that.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 04:00 PM
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Howdy amycyma, sounds like a great college present for your son! - Having recently been to the Selinda concession I can say that the wildlife there is worth seeing and the camps & staff & wildlife viewing when we were there are of fantastic quality. (That was in August/Sept 08) Have also been to Linyanti area in April 05 and grass is longer at the time of year when you are travelling- but still spectacular wildlife viewing just have to "look harder".

If you can, manage 3 nights at Selinda or even 4(?). Staying longer has its benefits too - one can stay in camp and soak up the great views at waterholes for a start (whislt son goes off on a game drive?? - just an idea). 2 at Livingstone - BTW Royal Livingstone is good if a bit overpriced and all "show" but 2 nights is nice stay and the access to the "Livingstone Island morning tour" well worth it - spectacular access to the falls if that tour runs in May - we did it recently, less water over the cataract! They serve breakfast on the tour but the "RL activity desk' forgets to tell you that so double check otherwise it feels like such a waste when you are presented with a second breakfast!

Any Okavango water camp is worth it for the mokoro experience alone! Xigera (WS) is beautiful area at the time of year you are travelling.

Although you include Makgadikgadi and I still haven't been to the pans even after 2 trips (!) - if those two nights were added in to the overall itinerary - extra days in savanna/ grassland area and mopane/ woodland areas would be worth it in my experience. Although your son and you might enjoy the quad biking if it is on offer from whatever camp in the pans you choose.

IMHO- After Jo'berg you can write off the first day at whatever camp you are going to and suggest you don't try to make the evening game drive - stay in camp relax and try to have dinner and a sleep before driving out. Makes for much more comfy brain and taking in the ambiance and surrounds.

1 night - jo'berg
3/4 nights - Selinda Camp
2 nights - water camp (thought of Xigera also a WS camp? - http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/bo.../introduction/)
3/4 nights - Chitabe Lediba (looks great, nice area)
2/ or 0 nights-Makgadikgadi
2 nights-Royal Livingstone
1 night-Jo'berg

Stay 3 - 4 nights where you can!
cheers, Jude.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 04:30 PM
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My 2 cents..

Af Adv option

3 Chitabe--great choice, you'll want at least 3 nights. If you wanted an &Beyond itinerary, their Sandibe camp is very close to Chitabe. I saw their vehicles while at Chitabe.

2 Kwetsani--If you are doing primarily water activities, then 2 nights is fine.

2 nights Camp Kalahari in the pans. If you mainly wanted to see the meerkats and just get a look at the desert then 2 days will do it here.

3 nights Selinda--Is there a reason that you are in Selinda over Savuti or Duma Tau? Is the pricing the same as Savuti or Duma Tau? Was there something about terrain and rainfall and wildlife that makes Selinda better than Savuti or Duma Tau?

I believe you get the price break NapaMatt refers to with Selinda because Selinda is marketed by Wilderness. I think Selinda may be the most luxurious out of Selinda, Duma Tau, and Savuti Camp. I recall some fancy bath tub comments made about Selinda Camp.

Rains and flood levels could have an effect on the quality of game viewing in this whole Linyanti-Selinda region.

When I was in the Selinda concession at Zib Camp, rains and unusual floods resulted in much higher water levels even as late as August. In fact, during my stay I was told that the water level in much of Botswana in August resembled what is normal for May.

Game in Selinda was much more dispersed and remained in the forests and we had long spells in the vehicle without animals. But with the abundance of water, the terrain was vibrantly gorgeous, the birdlife was prolific and beautiful even if you were not a birder and noting the species, and we still saw giraffe, zebra, kudu, just a couple of eles, lots of antelope, quite a few African wildcats at night, a caracal briefly at night, a buffalo herd visible from camp, wild dogs hunting and at the camp waterhole, and a cheetah.

I agree with Cybor on the order of camps. I think the Kalahari Camp should go first (and I went there first on a Kalahari, Okavango, Linyanti trip) unless flight schedules or currently booked charters make this order better. Look at a map to see where the pans are in relation to the delta. I'd ask why this order--there may be a good reason.

Other than the order, I think this is a good trip that everybody will be happy with.

-----------------------
"Chobe is crowded" comment. Much more so than anything else you have listed here. But the Chobe River wildlife cruise is fantastic regardless of the crowds in the hotels. You can also get away from the crowds in Chobe when you are viewing wildlife. There may also have been the comment that one of the big draws to Chobe is the huge ele herds that come to the river in the hundreds. But in May it may be too wet to attract those numbers along the river because water is available elsewhere.
-------------------
&Beyond
My gut reaction is Chitabe beats Nxabega for game. But, as mentioned above, there's Sandibe camp very close to Chitabe.

If I were including South Africa, with wildlife as my prime goal, then I'd go to the Sabi Sands, which is next to Kruger. I'm sure &B has a deal with a lodge there now that they no longer have their own property in Sabi Sands.

If doing &Beyond, I'd do

1 nt Jburg
3 Sandibe
2 Nxabega
3 Savute under Canvas
1 Jburg
3 wherever &B has connections in Sabi Sands

That's 13 instead of the 12 you had for &B, but you had 13 in the first itinerary

You mentioned you could drop Ngala and add Kalahari.

1 night J'burg
2 nights Kalahari
3 nights Sandibe
3 nights Nxabega safari camp
2 nights Savute under Canvas
2 nights Royal Livingstone

13 nights

This would be good too.

Pricing may play a role for you as well.




atravelynn is offline  
Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 05:53 PM
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It's always a problem trying to combine SA and Botswana, as it seems a night is always lost at Joberg in between. The all Botswana option is nice because you get an extra night on safari instead. But visiting both countries is also nice especially for first safari, so hard to say which you would like.

I'm not sure that I'm thrilled with &Beyond's choices of camps, as Lynn mentioned, Sandibe is the camp next to Chitabe, and I think that might be slightly better gameviewing than Nxabega (but I have not been to either). Also, not sure why they set you up at Ngala rather than one of the Exeter camps in Sabi Sands. It's hard to be disappointed with gameviewing in Sabi Sands.

AAC's itinerary has you moving around a lot, but it does seem to cover all aspects of Botswana camps well with a lot of variety in the camps. And of course 10 nights at camps instead of 8 nights in &Beyonds itinerary. We were at Chitabe (only 3 nights) the first part of June and did not have great sightings, but most other people on the forum here seem to have great luck at Chitabe. We did like the camp alot, the concession is very large, and we loved our camp out night there. Our first trip, we went to Kings Pool in the Linyanti, and our next trip to Selinda. Selinda was not one ouf our favorite camps, and the next time we would return to Duma Tau or Savuti. Kings Pool (6 paw camp) lovely and wonderful, but now too expensive for us. IMO, Selinda on par with the Wilderness 5 paw camps (but slightly larger and more crowded), but more expensive than the Wilderness 5 paw camps, so I would not spend the extra money for Selinda, but that's just me, some people love Selinda.

In our experience, the Wilderness camps price out quite differently depending on the agent (sometimes 10 to 15 percent), so may be worth checking with a few agents if that is a concern.

Both trips sound wonderful, wish we were going back next year!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 06:36 PM
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I like AAC's itinerary better, but everyone's right about more nights at each camp being better. Of the camps we visited in Oct/Nov 2007 (Jack's/Makgadigadi, Chitabe Lediba, Kwetsani, Kwando Lagoon, Little Vumbura) Kwetsani had the least game, but that was a completely different season. If you're interested in wild dogs, I believe they're denning at Chitabe this time of year (pls corect me if I'm wrong dog experts). The Kalahari desert (2 nights fine) is amazing, but I'd drop that given your limited time. Skipping the flight back to Johannesburg in between camps is a must; oyu're wasting precious game viewing time IMO. Lynn is right about Chobe. The huge elephant herds arein the dry season in Sept./Oct, not May, and it can be crowded. Also, be aware that the Royal Livingston, despite the price, is far better than the Zambezi Sun, which is kind of like a Las Vegas hotel. Andn you can do a day-trip from either of those places to Chobe if you like.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 07:09 PM
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Lynn talks about water levels in the Selinda ...... I do believe that the particular year of her visit, she refers to the above normal rainfall pattern they witnessed during their summer months the same year. This resulted in the animals remaining in the mopane veld until much later than normal.

At the moment, there seems to be above normal permanent water levels in all of the Greater Linyanti region (some say it's due to a shift in the techtonic plates) - not just Selinda, but we've read a lot about water levels in the Savuti area and we have all seen and read about the water levels in Eastern parts of the Kwando concession which resulted in the flooding and closure of the Lebala airstrip.

For example, In September/October of this year - the Elephant viewing at Kwando was pretty average at best due to the water levels. Ofcourse, we saw Elephants or even buffalo herds - but, they were not nearly as impressive as normal times.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 07:14 PM
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And Beyond (formerly CCA) would be able to book you camps that are not their own, including WS - so, just ask them to mix and match as to your fancy ...
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 07:16 PM
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many thanks for your helpful comments.

I am not sure if i am getting pressured from AAC, but they have provisionally booked things, and want me to confirm by the end of the week, or the "rates" they have been able to get for me will elapse.
that sort of makes me nervous.

my son and i are are really into the idea of the kahlahari. and we want the water camp experience too.

and while i initially felt that i wanted 4 nights at a place, it seems as if I just can't do it and do the kahlahari and wqter camp options as well.

my feeling about the hotels in livingstone is that that is where it was a good place to save some money. As far as i am concerned, all i need is a safe bed and a bathroom.

i can ask about the other camps in Linyati, and i also initially thought that the order was off. but this is my thinking on the order.
first we go to chitabe and see 'big game", then we do the water and kahlahari- and then end with the 'big game places. i agree tha tthe closest palce to jburg is kahlahari, but i am not sure if that is the best place to start.

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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 09:54 PM
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Amycyma, would you please consider adopting me? I have done the graduation thing and I am reasonably house-trained. I could be available to travel with you in May on, say, two days notice.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 02:41 AM
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If you are interested in game viewing, drop the Selinda in May. Unless you enjoy looking at a few impalas and beautiful scenery.

Savute will not be that dry, and at that time of year, too busy either. The only difference is that you cannot offroad.

Avoid the Linyanti, stick to the inner Delta. Places like Duba PLains, Little Vumbura, perhaps Kwara.

This current itinerary is dependent on low rain fall this rainy season to get good viewing in Botswana. If you shifted it to June/July, it would improve the situation.

If I were you too, I would wait until February to book. There maybe some interesting developments in terms of pricing.

Do the Kalahari at the start or the end, else you will fly through Maun to many times and lose precious time.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 04:18 AM
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I'm wondering how wet it will be at L.Vumbura at the end of May.

With the exception of seeing the dogs, I enjoyed L.V. more than Selinda.
Part of the reason was the amounts of water in Selinda which may still be there. The normal 10 min. drive from the airstrip ended up being more than an hour.

L.V. has superb guiding, is game rich and will also offer a water experience.

I've used AAC, btw, and will not use them again for many reasons. This is your trip, you're spending big bucks so don't let anyone bully you to take something that's not perfect.
Shop around and don't be afraid to mix camps up - find a broker who will not be opposed to using big names and private camps.

Also there's a few good decent travel books out there with good info. Brandt is a good one.

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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 05:21 AM
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I was trying to plan and book a similar safari for May 2010 back in October and here are the responses I got from the group: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...epainter&fid=4

I found that when I tried contacting other travel agents they wouldn't or couldn't talk to me because Wilderness informed them that I was already dealing with another agent. I also had thought about adding a few days in So Africa but there was always a night in J'burg to deal with and the price kept going up and up.

Since I am planning for May 2010 I ended up putting the whole trip on hold when they raised the rates again for 2010. It seemed that at every change I made, the cost went up when I was trying to shave a few dollars. After awhile it just felt like it was not meant to be at this time and with the economy in the toilet it felt wrong for me to commit to that many dollars. Now I’m just waiting to see what happens…
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 05:55 AM
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I know that I am in the minority on this, but I didn't find 2-night stays to be bad at all, but rather offered us the opportunity to see a greater number and variety of fascinating places in a limited number of days. This is based on using short (15 to 45 minutes), fun flights (on small Sefofane planes in 2004) from one WS Botswana camp to another (plus Vic Falls), and we didn't miss a single game drive.

I have read that some of the 4-wheeler trips into the desert don't start until June because the ground may be too wet before then, which might be a factor in the order of your stops.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 03:55 PM
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Amycyma,

Why do you want to eliminate Chitabe?

Cybor mentions Little Vumbura. That has good animals and water activities. You might be able to replace Chitabe and Kwetsani with 4 nts Little Vumbura. That would give you a night to spare.

Starting in the Kalahari works well because it starts you out with the least abundance of wildlife. Every animal is a big deal because you haven't seen them. You're not regarding the distant kudu or ostrich with the attitude, "I've seen those up close earlier, forget the binocs, let's just drive on."

But I always sequence my trips in the order that saves time or money rather than focus on the optimal flow or crescendo of wildlife viewing.

If you are concerned about the Linyanti-Selinda area that time of year, you could combine the Kalahari and Delta (LV) with a Sabi Sands camp in South Africa, plus see the falls.

1 Jburg
2 Kalahari
4 Little Vumbura
2 Livingstone
1 Jburg
3 Sabi Sands

Here is a report on Savuti in May. Quite favorable.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34632411

You mentioned a day in Joburg for some activities. I'd stick that day up front for jet lag recovery and as a buffer just in case you were delayed a day. Rare, but it is possible.

Any of these options mentioned will give you a great trip. Nobody comes back from any of these places and mopes or has regrets. Instead they want to return ASAP.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 05:16 PM
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You know- while WS is a well reputed company with a superb over-all standard, they are not the only one around. Feel free to ask around different travel agents and operators to see what suits you.

What Wildlifepainter writes, is pretty troubling. It's almost like there is a cartel network in operation that actually demands a certain system. Not being able to shop around? Never heard about that before.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 05:38 PM
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Some of the other companies are Kwando, Orient Express, Footsteps in Africa. I'd stay at any of their properties too, I just have not had the privilege of going there yet.
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